“She wished she could do an abortion but she had no idea of how to go about it”

Rose, a young Ugandan woman of 14 year-old, orphan of father and without access to education. She lived with her mother and her stepfather. Rose had been raped by her stepfather repeatedly. She had been threatened not to say anything, but she couldn’t silent the abuse anymore because she was pregnant. Two months had happened and she didn’t know what to do. She feared her mother reaction so she thought of running away from home, but she neither had a relative nor a friend to run to. She wished she could terminate the pregnancy but she had no idea of how to go about it.  In Uganda the abortion is illegal; it is permitted strictly on medical grounds.

Rose in her desperate situation drunk paraffin before going to bed at night to get an abortion. The next morning she could not get out of bed. When her mother checked on her, she was in a critical condition. She was rushed to the nearest dispensary. When medical officers learnt that it was an induced abortion, instead of doing everything possible to save her life, they blamed her saying that it was her fault. They claimed that there were no drugs so they were referred her to the nearest hospital. It took Rose’s mother time to raise money to hire a car to take Rose to the nearest hospital which was about 20 kilometers away. However, she died just as the car reached the hospital gate.

Induced abortion is permitted in Uganda only when continuation of a pregnancy would endanger a woman’s life. (Guttmacher Institute, “Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Uganda. Causes and Consequences” http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/11/27/UgandaUPIA.pdf)



Vero. I. D. Matovu (Gender Specialist)

“Had the laws on abortion not been restrictive Rose would not have lost her life.  It is worthy of note that reality in many African countries (an all over the world) is that even where abortion is prohibited/illegal, it frequently occurs and usually with dire consequences. […] Keeping in place restrictive laws on abortion will not in itself stop women/girls from having abortion. Curbing abortion requires an understanding of as well as finding solutions to the diverse factors which push women to get unwanted pregnancies.

I did not get involved as women’s rights defender in Rose’s case because of lack of evidence. Although Rose had told me that her stepfather was responsible for the pregnancy, other people did not know about it. It would be appropriate to make investigations but there was no financial support.”